Scientists at Edinburgh University have identified a new protein domain, CXXC, that specifically binds to non-methylated CpG islands (CGIs). CGIs are areas of DNA that are subject to methylation in the development of diseases including cancer.
A simple two-step column-based process has been developed, using this protein domain, to separate CGIs from bulk DNA to high purity, providing tools to analyse methylation of CGIs.
This technique is likely to be important in epigenetic studies, since no methods presently exist to specifically isolate non-methylated DNA from methylated DNA. Additionally, current methods employed to analyse CGI methylation are cumbersome, inaccurate, time-consuming and use toxic reagents.
Using the CXXC domain in a column format, a complete and sequenced library of all non-methylated genes has been generated for use in micro arrays, to interrogate the methylation status of all human genes.
Using MBD3, a protein domain that specifically isolates methylated DNA, alongside CXXC provides a means of carrying out routine and comparative genome-wide analysis of CGI methylation status.
The technique is claimed to allow a thorough analysis of all genes, in contrast to PCR analysis of specific genes known to be of interest.
Edinburgh University is seeking to license this technology for the manufacture and sale of the reagents and diagnostic tools.For more information, visit the project’s page at: http://www.university-technology.com/details/method-to-determine-the-methylation-status-of-genes